Smart cities require smart legislation

The architecture of Australia’s cities is changing rapidly. It seems not a day goes past without the promise of a new infrastructure project popping up to serve a booming population.

And it’s not just the physical infrastructure that’s evolving. In tandem with this growth is the proliferation of new digital services which are transforming how Australians move around cities, to the ways they enter buildings, as well as the adoption of smart IoT devices like cameras, locks and sensors – all which possess a digital identity.

In the midst of this digital change, a key priority for businesses, industry and government must be on developing legislation designed to protect and secure the digital identities which are ingrained in the smart infrastructure of Australia’s cities. With new technologies and innovations constantly emerging, the supporting legislation must keep pace.

Digital mobility

With many Australians opting to live closer to city centres for convenience, parking spaces in and around cities have become extremely limited. However, choice, delivered by technology, is driving changes in urban mobility. Shared-use mobility systems are fast becoming one of the most sustainable and practical ways to get around cities and address the issue of scarce parking spaces.

Providers like GoGet have met this demand head on by developing ways for Australians to securely and conveniently access shared vehicles. All that’s needed to get started is an online account, find a car, hold the smart card to the reader on the windscreen, and the doors will unlock.Through this simple extension of users digital attributes, Australians are able to seamlessly access transport options that suit their daily needs.

Digital identity is a mechanism to secure and authenticate users, vehicles and devices; and authenticate user to vehicles and devices. It’s also a foundational tool for bringing to life a vision around new mobility and establishing a useful and secure smart city ecosystem. These developments illustrate how deeply our digital identities are enabling Australians to interact with smart infrastructure and move around cities.

Biometrics boom

Just as the marketplace for connected vehicles is growing, so is the marketplace for biometric-enabled authentication technologies.

Advancements in technology have brought biometrics to the fore; everything from fingerprints to facial recognition and gesture recognition. Biometrics have paved the way for enhanced security and advanced recognition by combining people, places and patterns for identification and authentication purposes.

This signals the future of public safety. However, smart cities must also be secure cities. What is required is to establish a proper trust relationship among citizens and digital services. The two critical pieces in doing this are identity authentication and consent management.

Systems must be secure whilst also facilitating immediate access to citizen data to inform incident response plans. Certain levels of access control must be enforced around the biometric data which is gathered from devices such as CCTV cameras and fingerprint scanners.

These levels of control ensure that the relevant information is only shared with the authorised third-party which mitigates the risk of sensitive information ending up in the hands of nefarious actors.

Australia is on the cusp of a technology revolution. One that relies on our digital identities more than ever. Whether data collected is by connected vehicles or biometrics, it is critical to foster trust with citizens if Australia wants to realise its vision of a smart and secure city.

However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for smart cities. There are many stakeholders involved in making this a secure reality. Business, industry and government must come together to evaluate how legislation holds up in line with emerging technologies.

This will not only allow the technology sector to lead the charge on responsible self-regulation when it comes to data and privacy practices; it will also ensure that the industry takes steps towards responsible self-governance in alignment with these emerging innovations.

Ashley Stevenson is Senior Director Applied Innovation at ForgeRock

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